COVID-19 pandemic in VietnamDespite being one of the earliest countries outside of China to record a COVID-19 infection, Vietnam had been able to keep a very low infection rate for over a year into the pandemic. The country had been praised globally for its early-day proactive approach and success in containing the virus. Key aspects of its strategy in dealing with the virus during this period included identifying and quarantining suspected cases based on its third-degree contact tracing, cost-effective use of existing public and military facilities, and early and transparent communication to the public. But its low infection track ended in mid-2021 when the wave of Delta variant was spreading across Asia. While the number of COVID-19 cases for the whole year of 2020 in Vietnam was just around 1.5 thousand, over ten million cases were recorded in the following years, accompanied by the devastating figure of 43 thousand deaths. The country has since then moved from its zero COVID-19 strategies to the new normal of living with the pandemic.
Due to a global vaccine scarcity at the beginning of 2021, it was only until the middle of the same year that Vietnam began its mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Although the country was among the late starters with getting its population vaccinated, it quickly ramped up its vaccination rate from just over two percent in June 2021 to over 80 percent within a few months, one of the highest rates worldwide. In 2022, the government continues to promote getting booster doses to strengthen Vietnam’s herd immunity further.
COVID-19 aftermath: dealing with corruption in the wake of the pandemicVietnam went through one of the harshest lockdowns in the world during the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the second half of 2021. Yet the country still achieved a GDP growth of 2.58 percent that year, putting it on the list of a few economies with two years of GDP growth during the pandemic. However, Vietnam is now facing multiple million-dollar corruption scandals relating to the pandemic. The first case concerned a country-wide price-fixing scheme for COVID-19 testing kits, which were in high demand. This cost the state millions of U.S. dollars and led to several arrests, including that of Vietnam’s former Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long and former Ha Noi’s Mayor Chu Ngoc Anh.
The second scandal unfolded in early 2022 and revolved around the collusion between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several travel agencies. The involved officials and agencies pocketed a total of 87 million U.S. dollars at the expense of Vietnamese citizens living abroad by selling so-called repatriation fights that were priced at sometimes 20 times higher than their pre-pandemic commercial prices. While the government’s attempts to combat corruption have been received positively by the public, Vietnam still has a long way to go in its fight against this deep-rooted problem.
Vietnam is one out of more than 200 countries and territories battling the novel coronavirus. For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.